Passenger Transport - November 21, 2014
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New York MTA's Fulton Center Opens in Lower Manhattan

New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) recently unveiled the Fulton Center, located on Broadway in Lower Manhattan, a modern public transit and retail hub that integrates five subway stations serving eight subway lines with a ninth accessible through a new 350-foot-long pedestrian ­tunnel, with additional connections to Port ­Authority Trans-­Hudson Corporation (PATH) commuter rail to follow as additional projects in the area are completed.

“This building stands as a testament to the strength and resilience New York showed on 9/11 [Sept. 11, 2001] and every day since. And it stands as a testament to what smart investments in infrastructure can do to improve a city, a state, and even a nation,” said MTA Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Thomas F. Prendergast during the Nov. 9 opening ceremony. “It shows what we can do for our customers and our region when we invest in transit, and it shows New York is still thinking big and building big.”

FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan called the opening “a great day for New York as we celebrate the opening of the second largest transportation project in Lower Manhattan in the post-9/11 era.”

She continued, “The future of New York as a sustainable, livable city and vibrant economic center largely depends on our ability to build and maintain a modern, regional transportation network that works for everyone—and this is an important step toward that goal.”

MTA New York City Transit President Carmen Bianco added: “This new transit hub will go a long way toward enhancing the travel experience of hundreds of thousands of customers. They will finally benefit from a thoughtful design that vastly improves passenger flow throughout the station, minimizes congestion. … It’s a hub built in the 21st century for the 21st century and beyond.”

The Fulton Center complex features the glass and steel Fulton Building, the 125-year-old Corbin Building (being restored as part of construction), the Dey Street Head House, and the concourse under Dey Street that will connect to the future World Trade Center PATH Station. Its centerpiece is a 53-foot-diameter glass oculus over an atrium, which houses a suspended, integrated artwork of steel and aluminum, “Sky Reflector-Net. ”

Overall, the development includes 66,000 square feet of retail and commercial space, some 60,000 square feet of public areas, and 63,000 square feet of mechanical and other “back-of-house” space.

Approximately $847 million—primary funding for the $1.4 billion project—came from a special congressional appropriation granted after Sept. 11, 2001. Known as the Lower Manhattan Recovery Grants, those funds were intended for local public transit agencies to repair, replace, and enhance transportation infrastructure in the area. MTA provided $130 million in local funds, and the project also received the largest single award among FTA’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grants, $423 million.

The Fulton Center is in the process of qualifying for LEED certification. Environment-friendly features reduced potable water use by 30 percent and energy demand by 25 percent compared to a building of a similar type. More than 20 percent of materials used in construction were sourced locally and made of recycled content.

Fulton Center has received numerous accolades, including a commendation from the 2014 Brunel Awards, which recognizes excellence in rail architecture and design—the only project in the U.S. to receive such recognition. 

Crowds gather on opening day of the Fulton Center in Lower Manhattan.

Photo: Metropolitan Transportation Authority/Patrick Cashin


Red Rose Transit, BARTA to Establish New Authority; Agencies to Retain Route Oversight

Public transit agencies in two adjoining Pennsylvania counties are preparing to reorganize their operations into a single authority, effective Jan. 1, when the Berks Area Regional Transportation Authority (BARTA) in Reading and the Red Rose Transit Authority in Lancaster will jointly create a new entity, the South Central Transit Authority (SCTA).

Under the change, SCTA will contract with the two current organizations to provide management and administration services.
BARTA and Red Rose Transit will continue to employ their own operators and mechanics and will retain their existing names and logos. The 10-­member SCTA board will include five members representing each agency.

David Kilmer, executive director of Red Rose Transit, will serve as SCTA executive director. He also has overseen BARTA since the death in 2013 of its longtime director, Dennis Louwerse.

“I’ll shuttle between Lancaster and Reading, as I’ve been doing for the past year,” he said. “The staffs will continue to work exactly where they work now.”

Kilmer explained that managing the two agencies as a ­single entity will allow for economies of scale.

For example, a recent joint procurement for bus parts cost $83,000 less than two individual procurements would have.

He noted that, while the counties are next to each other, the agencies do not have contiguous routes. The territory between the Red Rose Transit and BARTA service areas is rural and there is little demand for bus coverage there, he said.

BARTA and Red Rose Transit Authority approved the change earlier in the year, but could not move forward until the commissioners of Berks and Lancaster counties also voted to support the change.

Reading and Berks County established BARTA in 1973 after purchasing the failing Reading Bus Company earlier that year. Red Rose Transit began operations in 1976, providing service in the city of Lancaster and ­Lancaster County.

The combined authority will have the fourth highest ridership among Pennsylvania public transit systems, following Philadelphia’s Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, Pittsburgh’s Port Authority of Allegheny County, and State College’s Centre Area Transportation Authority.

Red Rose Transit provided almost 2.2 million trips in 2013-2014, of which 1.9 million were on fixed route buses.  For 2012-2013, the most recent year for which figures are available, BARTA provided a total of 3.4 million rides, 3.1 million of which were on its fixed routes.

L.A. Metro Breaks Ground on Purple Line Extension

Los Angeles Metro started construction Nov. 7 for the long-awaited Metro Purple Line Extension project, which will connect West Los Angeles to the region’s growing rail network, making it possible to travel between downtown Los Angeles and Westwood in 25 minutes.

The first segment will extend the Purple Line about 4 miles from the existing Wilshire/Western Purple Line terminus near Koreatown into Beverly Hills, adding new underground stations at Wilshire/La Brea, Wilshire/Fairfax, and Wilshire/La Cienega. This segment, budgeted at $2.8 billion, is expected to be completed in 2023 and is the first of three sections.

“The Purple Line Extension will help the people of Los Angeles reach jobs and housing along Wilshire Boulevard and beyond, improving access to one of the most congested areas in the region,” said FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan, who attended the event. “Expanding the capacity of L.A. County’s transit system is critical for supporting population growth and economic development for decades to come.”

Eric Garcetti, mayor of Los Angeles and Metro board chair, said, “When it comes to infrastructure, L.A. is on the move. We are right now investing $36 billion in our transportation infrastructure to ease congestion and create thousands of jobs. Altogether, this is the largest public works project in the nation.”

Federal funding for the first segment of the project included a $1.25 billion FTA Full Funding Grant Agreement and a low-interest loan of $856 million from DOT through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) to complete the funding package.

Combined, these commitments represent the largest federal transportation investment for a single construction segment in the history of Los Angeles County. The remaining $821 million for the project comes from Los Angeles County Measure R sales tax revenues, the city, and other local and federal funds.

The other parts of the project include Section 2, which will include stations at Wilshire/Rodeo and Century City and is scheduled for completion in 2026, and Section 3, which will include Westwood/UCLA and Westwood/VA Hospital stations and is planned to open in 2035. When all three project sections are complete, the Purple Line will extend westward for nearly nine miles with seven new stations.
Dignitaries including Los Angeles Metro Chief Executive Officer Art Leahy, far left, and FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan, center, break ground for the first phase of the Purple Line Extension.


Dignitaries including Los Angeles Metro Chief Executive Officer Art Leahy, far left, and FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan, center, break ground for the first phase of the Purple Line Extension.


JTA Breaks Ground for BRT

DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx joined representatives of the Jacksonville (FL) Transportation Authority (JTA) Nov. 17 at ground-breaking ceremonies for First Coast Flyer, the region’s first BRT service.

“We’re proud to celebrate this milestone—but we must do more,” Foxx said. “We are committed to working with Congress to find bipartisan solutions that will help Jacksonville and other communities continue to invest in and enhance their transportation infrastructure in the years ahead,” he added.

“The construction of the Downtown Bus Rapid Transit Corridor is the next step in transforming public transit in Northeast Florida,” said JTA Chief Executive Officer Nathaniel P. Ford Sr. “This is a great moment for the JTA. We are honored that Secretary Foxx shared this historic moment with us.”

Construction of the First Coast Flyer BRT Downtown Project, almost six miles long with 12 stations, is scheduled to be complete by December 2015. It will operate in dedicated lanes ­during peak hours for a portion of the route and buses will be equipped with a ­transit signal priority system.

“Bus rapid transit promises a more efficient and responsive 21st century transportation system for Jacksonville,” said Mayor Alvin Brown, a vice chair of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Transportation and Communications Committee.

FTA is providing $9.3 million toward the $13.4 million cost of the initial downtown BRT line, with the balance provided by JTA and Florida DOT. JTA is seeking federal funds for the next two planned segments, the 9.4-mile North Corridor and the 11.1-mile Southeast Corridor; both are advancing through FTA’s Capital Investment Grant Program. The entire project is planned to encompass five corridors and extend for 55 miles.

Breaking ground for the first part of JTA’s First Coast Flyer BRT, from left: JTA Board Member Kevin Holzendorf, JTA Chief Executive Officer Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., JTA Board Vice Chair Scott McCaleb, JTA Board Chair Donna Harper, DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx, Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown, FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan, and JTA Board Member Isaiah Rumlin.

New CEOs Named

Shaw, Keolis Transit America
Keolis, an international passenger transportation company, has named Stephen W. Shaw president and chief executive officer of its Keolis Transit America subsidiary, with overall responsibility for managing the company’s U.S. public transit operations. He joined the company as chief operating officer in 2013.

Shaw has more than 35 years of transportation experience, beginning as vice president of operations with his family’s business, Shaw Bus Service in Baltimore. He also served eight years as regional vice president for Veolia Transportation Services.

Morton, Norwalk Transit District, CT
The Norwalk (CT) Transit District has named Kimberlee Morton as its next chief executive officer. She will succeed the retiring Louis Schulman on Jan. 5.

Morton currently is director of fiscal and administrative services for the Greater Hartford Transit District. She was assistant general manager for administration with Connecticut Transit for 13 years and spent 15 years at the Greater Bridgeport Transit Authority in positions including director of paratransit services, director of administrative services, chief operating officer, and acting general manager.

Pedersen, TRB
The Transportation Research Board (TRB) of the National Academies has named Neil Pedersen, deputy director of the second Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP 2), as its next executive director, effective Feb. 1. He will succeed Robert E. Skinner Jr., who will retire at the end of January after more than 30 years of service to the National Academies.

Pedersen joined SHRP 2 in 2012 with more than 36 years of transportation experience, 29 of them at Maryland DOT’s State Highway Administration, which he headed for more than eight years. Before joining the TRB staff, he was a longtime volunteer with the organization.

New Mobility Training Center Opens in St. Cloud, MN

St. Cloud (MN) Metro Bus held ribbon-cutting ceremonies and an open house recently to mark the opening of its Mobility Training Center, the first of its kind in Minnesota. With the help of Minnesota DOT and the city of St. Cloud, Metro Bus renovated a vacant historic downtown site, formerly a bank and office building, and created a home for its Community Outreach and Travel Training programs that help people learn how to navigate the public transit system. Ceremony participants, from left: Amy Braig-Lindstrom, a member of the Metro Bus Board of Commissioners; Mike Shadauer, director, Minn. DOT Office of Transit; Dave Kleis, commissioner; Ryan Daniel, Metro Bus executive director; Carolyn Garven and Kurt Hunstiger, commissioners; and Tom Cruikshank, director of operations and planning.

Public Transit Puts Out Welcome Mat for Vets

Dozens of public transit systems nationwide marked Veterans Day by conducting career fairs to recruit and hire service members, offering free rides to veterans, holding special events, and recognizing their current employees who are former service members. “We are proud of our country’s veterans and the contributions they gave to our nation and are now giving in the public transportation industry,” said APTA President & CEO Michael ­Melaniphy. “Public transportation offers a great career path for veterans looking for civilian jobs that will use their military skills.” A round-up of a few activities follows.

Putting Vets to Work
Following her 11-year stint in the U.S. Navy’s Seabees, Denver native Dawn Kantrud signed up for the Workforce Initiative Now program (WIN), the career development and training program founded in 2011 by Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD) and other partners to prepare workers for careers at RTD and other transportation and construction firms.

The program was devised by RTD General Manager and CEO Phil Washington, APTA chair, who served in the U.S. Army before retiring after 24 years as a command sergeant major. “We are proud of WIN and the program’s efforts to put veterans and others to work,” he said. “With so many troops returning home, it benefits all of us to lend the support they need and to thank them for the sacrifices they have made by serving our nation in times of need.”

WIN is currently training 398 participants, including 30 veterans. More than 15 percent of RTD bus operators and mechanics are veterans and in the last 20 months, 20 percent of new hires have been veterans. Kantrud is employed by Denver-based Triunity Engineering & Management.

In related news, Washington participated in a post-Veterans Day roundtable at the Pentagon specifically focused on strengthening hiring practices for former service members.

Honoring Employees
Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) Director Greg Winterbottom and CEO Darrell Johnson present OCTA coach operator and military veteran Hector Edeza with a pin recognizing his service in the military and with the agency during a special ceremony honoring veterans employed at the agency. A color guard from the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit based at nearby Camp Pendleton presented colors during the ceremony. OCTA employs 115 veterans—nearly 10 percent of its workforce—and it has been recognized by military organizations as a military-friendly employer. “Our veterans bring strong experience, dedication, and values that make them such an important part of the OCTA family. We are proud to take some time on Veterans Day to say thank you for your service,” said Johnson.

Contracting Opportunities; Building Connections
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (L.A. Metro) recently announced two new programs to support veterans.

The agency’s Disabled Veterans Business Enterprise (DVBE) program expands contracting opportunities for disabled veterans and establishes a 3 percent contracting goal for all non-federally funded competitively negotiated contracts for construction, goods, or services over $100,000.

“One of the most important things we can do for our veterans is make sure they have employment opportunities when they return home, and Metro’s new DVBE Program will boost veteran hiring in California,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, L.A. Metro board chair and Navy reservist. LA Metro also is working with veterans’ advocates to identify disabled veteran-owned businesses qualified for the program.

The agency also developed, a website that helps veterans find transportation services that connect them to work, education, healthcare, and other services. The agency developed the site with FTA and the Los Angeles County Service Authority for Freeway Emergencies (LA SAFE) through the Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative (VTCLI) federal program.

Valuing Vets on Staff
VIA Metropolitan Transit in San Antonio presented its veteran employees with a pin to commemorate their military service—a group that represents nearly 25 percent of the agency’s total workforce.

“One of the things that makes this country great is the willingness of our citizens to serve in the military,” said VIA President/CEO Jeffery Arndt. “We are proud to support veterans in our ranks, and we see the worth in hiring people who have been in the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marine Corps, and the Coast Guard. The discipline and integrity they learn while in the service carries over into their careers here, making them valued members of our workforce.”

Partnering with the VA
Philadelphia’s Southeastern Pennsyl­vania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) marked Veterans Day by announcing a new partnership with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that will help veterans find jobs at the agency.

Approximately 10 percent of SEPTA’s new hires for 2014 have been veterans, an increase from about 8 percent in 2013.
In addition to the new partnership, SEPTA works with several area non-profit organizations to connect veterans with jobs, it actively recruits former service members at job fairs and other events, and the agency is registered on the VA Job Bank.

Showing the Flag
Capital Area Transportation Authority (CATA) Customer Service Representative Anthony Gonzalez, a U.S. Army veteran, assists fellow veteran customer Dennis Driscoll. “You guys really made my day,” Driscoll said. In addition, employees of the Lansing, MI, agency wore flag lapel pins to salute veterans. “The president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local No. 1039, which represents approximately 250 CATA operators and maintenance employees, suggested we recognize the many sacrifices veterans make to ensure our country’s freedom. This is our peaceful demonstration to express our support and gratitude for service members everywhere,” said Sandy Draggoo, CATA CEO/executive director.

Laying a Wreath
Amy O’Campo, a data technician with the San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans) in San Carlos, CA, was invited to lay a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Solider at Arlington National Cemetery, a special invitation that included a visit to the White House for breakfast with Vice President Joe Biden.

O’Campo’s invitation recognizes her work as president of the San Mateo County Blue Star Moms and a vice president of the national organization, a volunteer group that provides care packages for active troops and assistance to veterans, including those in VA hospitals. O’Campo’s volunteer work was inspired by her son’s military service.

Recruiting Vets
The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART), Tampa, FL, participated in a local initiative to hire veterans for its workforce, of which about 15 percent are veterans.

“HART and its employees salute our nation’s veterans and thank them for their service,” said Katharine Eagan, chief executive officer. “We are recognizing the veterans within HART who have served across various branches of the armed forces and who work diligently to execute the agency’s mission.”
The agency also recognized several veterans on staff and offered free rides to all military personnel on Veterans Day.

At a special event preceding its November board meeting, the San Joaquin Regional Transit District (RTD), Stockton, CA, unveiled a special full-wrap bus—designed in-house by RTD employees—to honor veterans and it kicked-off the RTD Patriot Pass Program, which offers free 31-day bus passes to residents who are veterans or active service members. Speakers included Michael Restuccia, chair, RTD Board of Directors, and Donna DeMartino, general manager and chief executive officer.

Fort Worth's T Participates in Tower 55 Project

The Fort Worth (TX) Transportation Authority (The T) was among the stakeholders that participated in recent ceremonies commemorating the completion of the $104 million Tower 55 project, an intersection of north-south and east-west freight rail tracks used by BNSF Railway and Union Pacific Railroad. According to Michael Morris, transportation director for the North Central Texas Council of Governments, The T loaned $2.5 million to Tower 55 so the project could beat a deadline to qualify for a federal grant; without the loan, Tower 55 would not have been “shovel-ready” and likely would have been passed over for the grant. FRA Administrator Joseph Szabo holds the scissors and T President Paul Ballard is at far right.
Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley


Meet Susannah Kerr Adler!

Susannah Kerr Adler
Executive Vice President, General Manager-Regional Operations SYSTRA Consulting Inc./SYSTRA Engineering Inc.
Member, APTA Board of Directors, Policy & Planning Committee, ­Leadership APTA Class of 2003; Chair, Leadership APTA and ­Sustainability committees

How many people are employed at your organization? Please describe its scope.
SYSTRA is a global leader in planning, engineering, design, program management, and construction management for transportation systems and associated facilities.

With approximately 4,600 employees, SYSTRA benefits from more than 50 years of international experience and more than 25 years of work in the North American market. In 2013, SYSTRA reported revenues of $550 million and currently manages more than 3,000 contracts with operations in 78 countries.

How long have you worked in the public transportation industry?
I have actively worked in public transit for the past 22 years.

What drew you to a career in public transportation?
While growing up in New York City, I lived on buses and the subway and always assumed they were part of everyone’s life. It wasn’t until my first job out of college that I truly learned to appreciate the time and energy that goes into every decision, be it design or the operations of a system.

Coupling that experience with the privilege of some mentors early in my career who were passionate and engaged in the transit industry, I never thought twice of another career.

How long have you been an APTA member?
I attended my first APTA event in 1998 and have been engaged since then.

What have you found to be the most ­valuable APTA benefit or resource? Please explain why or how this has helped you do your job.
The benefits are twofold. First and foremost are the people, in particular the friendships and the camaraderie that have developed while working collaboratively on industry-wide issues—whether it is defining what sustainability means for the industry and developing subsequent standards and metrics around that, or mentoring and working with the next generation of industry leaders.

Second, APTA provides an invaluable resource as a forum for advocacy, innovation, and information sharing. Given SYSTRA’s global breadth and experience, the ability to put the nature of our work within the context of the U.S. environment enables us to be a stronger partner on projects and programs.

Please describe your involvement with APTA.
Currently I serve on the Board of Directors and chair both the Sustainability Committee and Leadership APTA. I am active with the Business Member Board of Governors’ Business Development Committee as well as several modal committees.

My early involvement was through the conferences, but following my participation in the 2002/2003 class of Leadership APTA, I was able to get more actively engaged in meaningful ways.

What do you like most about your job?
Every day is different. My role at SYSTRA encompasses business operations, project development and delivery, as well as engagement with our client base across a range of geographic regions.

What is unique about your organization? What would readers be surprised to learn?
While SYSTRA is perceived as a rail systems engineering firm, we are owned by two operating rail organizations that give us a unique perspective on how to approach our work.

Additionally, SYSTRA has a corporate focus on innovation and has pioneered technologies ranging from off-wire technology for streetcars and dynamic 3D condition assessments of infrastructure to proprietary operations planning software, like RAILSIM X, an analytical tool that accurately simulates all facets of any rail system.


AC Transit Receives Small Starts Grant for East Bay BRT Project

AC Transit in Oakland, CA, has received an FTA Small Starts Grant—the first Fiscal Year 2014 grant announced so far—through an agreement that commits funding for the completion of the agency’s 9.5-mile East Bay Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project, a project supported by $81 million in federal grants.

“With the East Bay BRT project, AC Transit continues to execute its vision to provide a truly world-class transit service that is convenient, reliable, and safe, one that increases mobility, enhances the quality of life, and improves the health of the environment throughout the communities we serve,” said AC Transit General Manager David Armijo. He thanked the cities of Oakland and San Leandro, Caltrans, and the region’s members of Congress for their help in the process.

AC Transit’s BRT will link one of the busiest traffic corridors in the San Francisco Bay area, from downtown Oakland to the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District station in San Leandro, with dedicated lanes, transit signal priority, and artistically enhanced stations with level boarding. In addition to reducing traffic levels and significantly cutting emissions and pollutants, BRT combines the express service and capacity of light rail with the convenience and affordability of riding a bus.

“The Federal Transit Administration is proud to partner with AC Transit to bring bus rapid transit service to the East Bay area, improving access to jobs in downtown Oakland, and making it easier for riders to connect to BART and other transportation services,” FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan said at the event. “This new BRT line will make a huge difference for thousands of commuters who need and deserve reliable transit service.”

AC Transit expects the line to provide approximately 27,000 weekday trips when it opens in 2017. The project includes 7.4 miles of dedicated bus lanes and 34 new bus stations with real-time arrival information, level boarding platforms, and ticket ­vending machines.

The total cost of East Bay BRT is $174 million; the federal funding includes $50 million from FTA’s Capital Investment Grant Program, $25 million in FTA Bus and Bus Facilities funds, and $6 million in Congestion Miti­gation and Air Quality Improvement Program funds. The remaining cost will be covered by state and local sources.

FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan joins AC Transit General Manager David Armijo in signing the agreement for an FTA Small Starts grant. At left is FTA Region 9 Administrator Leslie Rogers.

MBTA Station Renamed for Dukakis

In ceremonies Nov. 10, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick rededicated Boston’s South Station as “Governor Michael S. Dukakis South Station Transportation Center” in recognition of the former governor’s advocacy of public transportation.

“Gov. Dukakis is not just a proponent of public transportation, he is one of the MBTA’s best customers,” said Beverly Scott, general manager, Massa­chusetts Bay Transportation Authority. “I am thrilled to be able to be here today to honor the work of someone so dedicated to growth and improvement of public transportation here in Massachusetts.”

South Station opened in 1898 and underwent a complete overhaul in the 1980s while Dukakis was in office. It is the busiest station in the MBTA system and currently serves more than 25,000 riders on a typical weekday, not including Amtrak and private bus passengers.

Dukakis was known to ride MBTA during his tenure as governor and supported increased transportation funding to improve and extend subway and commuter rail service.

Dukakis was the Democratic presidential nominee in 1988. He later served on the Amtrak Board of Directors as a strong supporter of improved high-speed rail.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis with MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott, left, and his wife Kitty following ceremonies at which Gov. Deval Patrick renamed South Station in Boston in his honor.

Public Transit Agencies Help the Hungry

Public transit agencies throughout North America are conducting food collection drives in their areas. Here are a few examples.

VTA Leads Effort to Improve Transit in Silicon Valley Region

BY BRANDI CHILDRESS, Public Information Officer, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, San Jose, CA

Friday, Oct. 31, wasn’t just about trick-or-treating or celebrating the Giants’ World Series win at the parade in San Francisco. Public transit leaders and elected officials from the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), Caltrans, the city of Fremont, and the Alameda County Transportation Commission also cele­brated a big win for the collective effort to deliver safety and mobility improvements as part of the Mission/Warren Area Improvements Project.

These enhancements in south Fremont, CA, will help make way for VTA’s BART Silicon Valley ­Berryessa Extension—a 10-mile, two-station extension of Bay Area Rapid Transit District service into Silicon Valley, connecting San Jose with Oakland and San Francisco, among other projects.

“This project has improved a major regional commute corridor and enhanced safety and access for city of Fremont residents, all while making way for us to continue down the track of delivering BART to Silicon Valley,” said Nuria Fernandez, VTA general manager and chief executive officer. “It’s a great example of how projects get built faster and more economically when agencies work together to problem solve congestion and mobility issues.” VTA is managing the project with BART.

The project includes widening one major route from four to six lanes and a grade separation that divides an existing street from Union Pacific Railroad and future BART tracks. VTA also installed two new railroad bridges and two BART bridges over both roadways to provide access for freight and commuter rail while separating train movements from vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

“Every community, every level of government, every person worked together to make sure their piece in this project got done,” said Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA).

Funding for the $151 million project came from federal, state, and local sources. The Berryessa Extension is the first part of a two-phase project. ­Passenger service is expected to start in late 2017 with projected weekday ridership at approximately 23,000.

Speakers at an event to launch VTA's Mission/Warren Area Improvements Project included Rep. Mike Honda, second from left, and VTA General Manager/CEO Nuria Fernandez, sixth from right.



Public Transportation: Opportunities for Nation Building

BY PHILLIP A. WASHINGTON, General Manager & CEO, Denver RTD, and APTA Chair

When I accepted the APTA leadership torch from immediate Past Chair Peter Varga at the Annual Meeting in October, I thanked the 2,000 colleagues in attendance for naming me their “Chief Transportation Advocate.” That’s how I see my year as chair: It’s a call to action, when all of us in public transportation work together to strengthen our role as the transformational industry our nation needs. There’s no time like the present. We have great challenges, but we also have unprecedented opportunities.

Opportunity Number 1
I have seen plenty of nation building around the world in my previous career with the U.S. Army. It’s time for America to do some “nation building” here at home, starting with public transportation.

Now is the moment to make our case. Every one of you has a compelling story—bold growth, community development, job creation, and innovative problem solving, just to name a few. Individually and collectively through APTA, we have preached to anyone who would listen that we need a long-term funding bill to close the $86 billion infrastructure deficit.

But our words have not resulted in collective long-term action by our federally elected leaders. Nor has the reality of operating on too many crumbling bridges, roads, and 19th-century train tracks. Like you, I am not accustomed to this type of leadership paralysis, ­especially when 72 percent of Americans have supported local transportation ballot measures since 2000, including the recent election. That’s a landslide by any count. Congressional inaction is mind-boggling to me.

So let’s do more than “preach” and engage in individual federal official advocacy. Let’s see some collective congressional action with regard to a sufficiently funded long-term transportation funding bill.

Opportunity Number 2
I’m calling for a day of advocacy: a National Day of Transportation Infrastructure. I envision this as a day when every public transit agency in the nation and every business in the private sector can unite in common purpose with one message: It’s time to set aside partisanship and once again act in the best interest of our country to build, repair, and strengthen transportation infrastructure.

It’s time to do that nation building I mentioned.

It’s time to highlight our industry’s contributions in terms of improving lives, creating jobs, strengthening small businesses, and transforming communities.

It’s time to underscore our industry’s tremendous value to local, state, and national economies.

Such a day requires our collective action. And such a unified outcome needs many champions. It will take all of us, working with our partners—­chambers and business owners, riders and advocates, millennials and baby boomers, employers and workers, universities and students, veterans, and developers—who understand that strengthening our infrastructure is a matter of national economic survival and national security. APTA is currently developing a blueprint, so get ready.

Opportunity Number 3
Our next opportunity is APTA’s new five-year strategic plan. As chair of the Strategic Plan Steering Committee, I know it builds on a solid foundation.

The new plan sharpens our focus; ensures that we’re taking the right action at the right time; connects the plan to board, committee, and staff work; and addresses the five “mega-trends” that are driving so much change. These trends will define our operating environment for the next five years: increasing expectations for improved safety and security measures, evolving financial resources, shifting workforce demographics, changing customer lifestyles, and accelerating technologies.

During the process to develop the plan, several topics surfaced: asset management and state of good repair, the evolution of transit-oriented development to transit-oriented communities and the resulting gentrification in some neighborhoods, research, and inter­national collaboration. While we can’t tackle all these issues, we will address some in the plan. The final version will be ready in early 2015.

Opportunity Number 4
Funding is our biggest priority. We are on the edge of an infrastructure renaissance, but we must have a long-term bill as a catalyst. We all know this. So do our elected leaders, from city councils to statehouses and Capitol Hill to the White House.
At some point, funding will flow. Infrastructure apathy cannot last forever. Our best leaders know that our transportation infrastructure will fail on a massive scale if we don’t act. It’s like not changing the oil in car for 10 years and still expecting it to run.

When the spigot opens, will we be ready? Are we shovel and investment ready? I think most of us are. Are we also people ready? We have some work to do on this front.

We need to develop a qualified workforce up and down the corporate ladder to plan, build, operate, and maintain the bigger and better agencies federal funding will surely trigger.

But the importance of long-term funding isn’t only about the actual money. Rather, the long-range value of a long-term bill is that it minimizes risk to our investors and private-sector partners. Our partners are much more willing to invest in us when they can see that the nation has invested in us. It all comes back to nation building.

When I see and hear world leaders, many of who convened at the recent two-day G20 gathering in the Australian city of Brisbane, talk about funding and building more infrastructure in their respective countries, I wonder how far we are falling behind. I wonder whether our federally elected leaders understand that their lack of collective leadership and action in this crucial area is already leading to incredible uncertainty in the planning, building, and repairing of this country’s infrastructure.

This country has been on a 30-year infrastructure vacation. It’s way past time for the United States to return from this vacation and get back to work. In my year as APTA’s Chief Transportation Advocate, I promise to get to work for you.

This “Commentary” section features different points of view from various sources to enhance readers’ broad awareness of themes and views that affect public transportation.


Who's Doing What in the Industry

Tom Costello

URBANA, IL—Tom Costello, assistant managing director of the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District since 1976, retired Nov. 14.

Costello began his public transit career at the Chicago Transit Authority, where he worked as a conductor during college breaks.

He joined CUMTD in 1974 as a part-time driver and was promoted to director of public information and ultimately assistant managing director.

 For APTA, Costello is a past chair of the Marketing & Communications Steering Committee, a former vice chair-marketing and communications on the Executive Committee, and a member of the APTA Board of Directors from 2011-2014. He chaired the APTA Public Transportation Partnership for Tomorrow (PT2) and co-chaired the “Telling Our Story” initiative.

Scott Mahaffey, Andre McEwing, Carter Burdette, Jon Michael Franks
FORT WORTH, TX—The Fort Worth Transportation Authority Board of Directors recently re-elected its officers: Scott Mahaffey, president and chief executive officer of Cohn & Gregory Inc., chair; Andre McEwing, manager of supplier diversity, Tarrant County College District, vice chair; and Carter ­Burdette, attorney and former Fort Worth City Council member, secretary. Also, The T introduced new board member Jon Michael Franks, who was appointed by the ­Tarrant County Commissioners Court. Franks is an attorney with the Wynne Law Firm’s Grapevine office.

Neil S. Yellin, Robert M. Lavell, Dennis J. Martin
NEWARK, NJ—The New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJ Transit) Board of Directors has appointed Neil S. Yellin as the agency’s deputy executive director and Robert M. Lavell and Dennis J. ­Martin as vice president and general manager of NJ Transit rail operations and bus operations respectively.

Yellin has 27 years experience in ­public transit leadership, serving since 2008 as a senior vice president for administration/chief safety officer with MTA Long Island Rail Road. He also served MTA Long Island Bus as its president and vice president of policy and planning.

Lavell has served in his post on an acting basis since March 2014. He is a career railroad professional with more than 40 years of experience, and was NJ Transit’s deputy general manager of equipment from 2008-2013, following 30 years with Amtrak.

Martin has 30 years of transit industry experience, primarily with NJ Transit, and served in his job on an acting basis since June 2014. His other jobs with NJ Transit include senior director of customer resources and director of bus terminal operations.

Robert Puciloski, Mohsen Tabrizi, Neil Gutterman
NEW YORK CITY—SYSTRA announced the hiring of three members of its Systems Engineering and Design-Build Group: Robert ­Puciloski, director of the group; Mohsen Tabrizi, senior system safety designer; and Neil Gutterman, senior design-build manager.

Puciloski has more than 30 years of experience from his railroad career, serving most recently as assistant vice president of MTA Metro-North Railroad.

Tabrizi has worked in engineering for more than 23 years, entering the rail signaling field as a software engineer in 1999. Most recently, he was a senior engineer with GE Transportation.

Gutterman has extensive experience in design-build engineering, working with clients including FTA, the Maryland Transit Administration, and the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District.

Mark J. Dorsey
PHILADELPHIA—Mark J. Dorsey has joined the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority as an inspector for the Transit Police Department.

Dorsey has 37 years of experience, serving most recently as chief of police at the University of Pennsylvania. He retired from the Philadelphia Police Department as an inspector in the Narcotics Bureau after a 27-year career, during which he received the Valor Award and more than 40 Merit Commendations.

Adrian Ruiz

PHOENIX—Valley Metro has hired Adrian Ruiz, a retired police lieutenant, as director of safety and security.

Ruiz was an officer with the Phoenix Police Department for 23 years, including seven years as a lieutenant with the Phoenix Police Transit Enforcement Unit. She retired from the Violent Crimes Bureau in 2014. During her tenure as an officer, she received two city of Phoenix Employee Excellence Awards in 2013 for her actions to mitigate issues during a transit strike and for her involvement with Operation STOP (Surface Transportation Top Offender Program).

Norma De La Garza-Navarr
o, Randy Altshuler, Carol A. Bellinger
ORLANDO, FL—HDR announced the following appointments:

Norma De La Garza-Navarro is the firm’s new Central Texas transit lead, based in San Antonio. She previously worked 24 years for Dallas Area Rapid Transit for 24 years, most recently as vice president of commuter rail and railroad management and director of the Trinity Railway Express. She also spent two years with VIA Metropolitan Transit in San Antonio.

Randy Altshuler has joined HDR as the firm’s West Region transportation director, based in Oakland, CA. He joins the company after serving as west transportation business line leader with AECOM. His 35 years of experience also include employment with Parsons Brinckerhoff, Parsons Corporation, MTA New York City Transit, and Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

Carol A. Bellinger has been promoted to transportation real estate services director, based in HDR’s Plymouth Meeting, PA, office. She joined the firm in 2009, serving as north central real estate services lead and Illinois section manager. She has more than 30 years of experience.

David L. Mayer
NEW YORK CITY—David L. Mayer has been named chief safety officer of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), a new position created to reinforce safety as the top priority for all MTA agencies.

Mayer began his career at the National Transportation Safety Board in 1991 in the Office of Research and Engineering. He was named assistant managing director in 2001 and promoted to managing ­director, the highest career-level position at the agency, in 2009.

Raj Srinath, David C. Hill, Inez Evans
SAN JOSE, CA—The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) announced the appointments of Raj ­Srinath as chief financial officer, David C. Hill as deputy director of transit operations, and Inez Evans as chief of staff.

Srinath comes to VTA from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, where he served as treasurer since 2008. He has more than 20 years of experience in financial operations.

Hill previously was deputy director, transit management, with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. He has worked more than 20 years with public transit agencies in cities including Birmingham, AL, Dallas, and Detroit.

Evans was chief operations officer with Cincinnati Metro before joining VTA. She is a graduate of the Leadership APTA Class of 2011 with more than 20 years of transit experience in Atlanta, San Jose, and Austin, TX.

Periklis Papadopoulos, Matthew G. Verhoff
NEW YORK CITY—Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) announces the appointments of Periklis Papadopoulos as a supervising communications systems engineer in the New York City office and Matthew G. Verhoff as a principal technical specialist for rail operations and planning, based in Austin, TX.

Papadopoulos has more than 20 years of security systems design and engineering experience. Prior to joining PB, he held senior positions with global communications consulting firms.

Verhoff served most recently as director of rail operations for the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority in Austin. His more than 20 years of railroad industry experience includes working for the Canadian National Railroad and MTA Long Island Rail Road, as well as a previous tenure with PB from 2010-2012.

Terry Nash, Jaidev Sankar
KANSAS CITY, MO—Terry Nash has joined HNTB Corporation as senior project manager for transit and rail and associate vice president, based in the firm’s Bellevue, WA, office. He has 18 years of project management experience, specializing in rail transit for the past 13 years.

Prior to joining HNTB, Nash served as associate vice president at another consulting firm.

Also, Jaidev Sankar, P.E., has joined the New York City office of HNTB as a project director and vice president. He has extensive rail transit construction experience with major projects throughout the northeastern U.S.

Dan Ifrim, Ray Akkawi, Vince Alvino
ISELIN, NJ—Hatch Mott McDonald announced the hiring of Dan Ifrim and Ray Akkawi as senior project managers and Vince Alvino as senior project controls and technology services manager.

Ifrim, based in Mississauga, ON, has 30 years of tunneling experience in the U.S., Canada, and overseas.

Akkawi, who will work in Pleasanton, CA, has 17 years of experience with Caltrans, five years with the Alameda County Transportation Commission, and three years as a consulting engineer.

Alvino has 20 years of experience as a project controls and technology management consultant and five years working with the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority and the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District. He will also be based in the Pleasanton office.

John Milano
MARLTON, NJ—Hill International has promoted John Milano, P.E., to senior vice president and manager of the Northeast Region for the Project Management Group. He succeeds D. Clarke Pile, P.E., who served in that post for 12 years and will continue working with Hill as an executive consultant.

Milano has served as the Northeast Region’s deputy regional manager since 2003 and has more than 30 years of experience in the construction management industry.